April 23, 2021
You may have heard by now the newly enacted reforms that happened in the state of Georgia regarding their elections. If not, these new laws were framed as protecting the future elections of the state from the continually debunked voter fraud accusations of the 2020 elections. These regulations passed and signed by the Republican-controlled state include forbidding the act of giving food and water to voters waiting in line at the polls, requiring absentee ballots be mailed in prior to 11 days to an election, shortening voting periods for special elections from 9 weeks to 4 weeks, requiring all voters to verify their identity on absentee ballots with their state-issued ID or social security number, and limiting the number of ballot drop boxes to one per 100,000 voters.
Besides there being no evidence of the perpetuated mass voter fraud from the previous election, these new regulations surrounding voting should be considered voting restrictions that disproportionately affect communities of color. This isn’t just a one-off case in Georgia either, every state currently has had some form of a bill introduced that would restrict voting access.
In Michigan, there have been 39 bills introduced as a package that would introduce some of the restrictions seen in Georgia. For example, Senate Bill (SB) 285 would require a copy of a government-issued ID to be attached to an absentee ballot, SB 286 would prohibit ballots from being dropped off after 5 pm on election day, as well as SB 310 would prohibit the Secretary of State from mailing unsolicited absentee ballots to registered voters. However, not all of the bills are necessarily bad, such as SB 300, which would allow early voting to begin on the second Saturday before an election begins.
So, what happens next? The good news is that the bills need to go through committees and that we have a governor who is vehemently opposed to the package. So even if these bills pass through committees and both bodies of the legislature, Governor Whitmer will veto them. The bad news is something that the GOP has utilized in the past, most recently with Unlock Michigan, is the use of a ballot initiative to get these restrictions enacted. What this does is force a vote in the legislature that cannot be vetoed by the Governor, only requiring some 400,000 Michigander signatures and a simple majority in the legislature.
While there are perfectly reasonable reforms to our election process that would ensure security and accuracy in our democracy, pushing reforms through with no regard for public input or bipartisanship is the opposite of how government should function. Legislatures are leaving valid input and debate at the door, abandoning the very principles laid out in our Constitution.
Written by Let’s Detroit: Adam Majestic